August 15, 2011

The 5 A Day Challenge

Whilst browsing the internet for some inspiration, I came across this post on a blog I frequent. (It's a really good resource for play based learning for kids and a lot of fun DIY projects! I would love to give them a go in the future when I have the time inshaAllah ;P)

Here's the link:

Now what I want to do is add a Islamic perspective to this challenge. Some of the stuff she mentions in her post are:
They suggest choosing short picture books which feature strong rhythm and/ or repeated refrain so that the children can quickly memorise the words and join in with the story-telling. This empowers them to be able to "read" and re-tell stories from a young age, and also makes them very fluent in a range of text types and literature styles. 
Why not use this to teach our children their deen? Repeatedly read to them stories from the Quran, short hadiths and introduce them to Arabic as a language.

She goes on to say:
after a term of switching the 5-a-day books each week, they had memorised a huge number of books and developed a real love for the pictures and characters within them. 
How would you like to see the results of your efforts when your child has memorised verses from the Qur'an, daily duas, hadith and duas for dhikr?
studies show that children exposed to plenty of strong, rhythmic text/ song from a young age become more literate. 
Bang! Right on. Are you thinking what I'm thinking B1? I think I am B2? It's Quran qirat time! ;) (sorry couldn't resist hehe)

So, now here's my proposal. Would you like to join me in the 5 a day challenge? We could pick short duas, hadith, ayahs from the Quran or even stories of Prophets, Sahabas, great Muslim men/women and read it to our children every-day for a week. And then report back with progress. Hopefully they would've memorised parts of it or better still most of it, inshaAllah. We can pick a theme each week, and depending on the topic allocate either 1 week or more for each set of 5 items.

So who's in? Drop in a line with comments, suggestions, ideas, tips and advice! Let's get the ball rolling ;)

August 08, 2011

Of all the Rights of Women, the Greatest is to be a Mother

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard... [Quran 4:34]

Historically men have taken upon the role of being providers of the home and leaders of their families, whilst the women are responsible for raising the children. Though some might look down upon these gender specific roles and raise doubts of non equality and oppression it is important to note that the role of a woman is by far the most honourable. She is the one who will be actively partaking the upbringing of the next generation of Muslims on true beliefs and sound morals. This differentiation of roles is essential for effective functioning of the family and All praise be to Allah (swt) who has created all systems with balance and order.

Motherhood is a means of gaining endless spiritual rewards. It is an opportunity for us to mould and guide the leaders of tomorrow, the pioneers of change who will interact with and bring forth good reform into the society at large. They will together strengthen the foundations of the community steering them towards success and enlightenment.

Being a mother brings with it the enormous responsibility of disciplining, instructing and guiding. For this reason we have been given the respect and honour that we rightly deserve.

It is reported that once a man went to the Prophet (pbuh) and asked: O Messenger of Allah who, of all people, is most entitled to my kindness and good company? The Prophet answered, Your mother. Then the man asked: Who comes  next? The Prophet replied, Your mother. The man again asked: Who comes next? and again the Prophet (pbuh) answered, Your mother. The man asked one more time, Who comes next? And the Prophet replied: Your father. [Bukhari & Muslim]

Motherhood in itself is a full time career, employed by our Creator, equipped with His Guidance and Mercy where we embark on this miraculous journey, by His command, from conception through birth, breastfeeding and many more years of child-rearing.

Being bestowed with the bounty of motherhood is a part of the  Mercy of Allah (swt). Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said, " Allah created, on the same day when He created the heavens and the earth, one hundred parts of mercy. Every part of mercy is analogous to the space between the heavens and the earth, and He out of His Mercy, endowed one part to the earth, and it is because of this that the mother shows affection to her child. [Muslim]

It is as a result of this Mercy that a woman exhibits the exceptional qualities of nurturing, compassion, sensitivity and patience which are all crucial for the efficient fulfilment of this role.  These in turn lay the foundation for a warm, loving and peaceful home.

Kudos to all the mothers out there, who are sharing many moments of unconditional love, laughter and togetherness and building memories that they will cherish for the rest of their lives. It is truly a job where there is no dry moment, no bonuses or perks necessary to keep us grounded and definitely one with complete job satisfaction!

Learning to Teach from the Greatest Teacher

Certainly did Allah confer [great] favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error. [Quran 3:164]

Every good teacher knows how to reach out to his students, how to bring out from them their full potential. In this regard - as in all other regards - none was, or ever will be, better than the Messenger of Allah (swt). 

  • In teaching others, he was gentle, and he exhorted others to be gentle as well. His gentleness wasn't restricted with the rich and the strong, but also the poor and weak; and he was especially gentle with children.

"Verily Allah is Rafeeq (Kind, merciful, gentle) , and He loves gentleness. And Allah gives for gentleness that which He does not give for harshness." Bukhari (6927) & Muslim (2593)

  • He possessed noble manners to which others were drawn, and wished that they could remain in his company all the time. He was always truthful and sincere.
So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. Quran 3:159
  • He did not overload his Companions with information; he did not force them to listen to lectures a few times a day or even once a day. The Prophet (pbuh) was afraid that his Companions would become bored with daily, lengthy lectures, so he would leave a sufficient gap between one lecture or sermon and the next. Such a gap allowed the companions to regain a sense of enthusiasm, so that they would yearn for another sermon, one that would give them the spiritual fuel they needed until the sermon that came after it.
  • He did not teach them about matters all at once, but in stages a little at a time.
And [it is] a Qur'an which We have separated [by intervals] that you might recite it to the people over a prolonged period. And We have sent it down progressively. Quran 17:106
  • He would be economical with his words, giving a sermon that was at once meaningful and brief. 
  • His sermons were full of guidance and wisdom, such that they had the effect of increasing the Faith of the Companions.
"Verily, the prolongation of a man's prayer and the brevity of his sermon are signs of his understanding (fiqh)." Muslim 869
  • He encouraged the use of lawful entertainment as a means of diversion that rejuvenates the soul and provides a healthy break from serious affairs and hard work. 
  • He prioritised his lessons, teaching his Companions in order of what was most important. 
  • He repeated what he said three times, giving commands that were at once brief and easy to memorise and changing the pitch of his tone depending on the importance of what he was saying.
  • He used parables, analogies and metaphors which were palpable, easy to understand examples to make matters clear to his Companions.
  • He related stories of past Nations and captivated hearts with beautiful stories and imparting to them important lessons.
  • He exhorted his Companions to spread the knowledge he conveyed to them. 
  • By far, the best method of teaching that the Prophet (pbuh) employed was that of being a good role model. Every religious teaching that the Prophet (pbuh) commanded others to follow, he followed it himself.
The  Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: "Whoever takes a path seeking knowledge, then, because of that, Allah makes easy for him a path to Paradise." Muslim 2699

[Summarised by yours truly from various parts from the book "Muhammad, As if You Can See Him by A'id Al-Qarni]

Treat the Young Girl According to Her Age...

According to an authentic narration:

<< It is narrated by A'ishah (RA) that Abu Bakr (RA) entered upon her whilst she was with two of her friends on the day of Mina. They were playing the tambourine and singing songs, whilst the Prophet (pbuh) was lying down with his face covered with his cloth. Abu Bakr rebuked them, so the Prophet (pbuh) uncovered his face and said: Let her be, O Abu Bakr, it's Eid. (Aishah added:) I have seen the Prophet (pbuh) screen me with his cloth, allowing me to see the Abyssinians play, and I was a young girl; so treat the young girl according to her age, as she is playful, spirited and youthful.>>
Muslim, Hadith no.892

Her words, "so treat the young girl according to her age" mean that young girls like to look and enjoy activities of leisure and entertainment, and hence, their husbands (or fathers) should take care of this desire of theirs and allow them to enjoy it until they are satisfied.  [Sharh Muslim by An-Nawawi (6/490)]

This hadith shows how kind, merciful and indulgent the Prophet (pbuh) was with his wives in his social interactions with them.

This marvellous religion of Islam is characterised by its ease and leniency, as it caters to the needs of a human being, whatever his or her circumstances or situation. Despite the fact that the reason for our existence on this planet is to worship Allah, there is nothing wrong with having fun and being merry, as long as it does not go against the limits set by Islam.

Taken from the book: The Prophet Muhammad, The Best of All Husbands by Dr. Ghazi al-Shammari